As the weather has been quite hot here in Verona - in the 90s with humidity, (today it was forecast to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit, 35 Celsius, with humidity of around 26%), we decided to spend a day at the lake. Lago di Garda is Italy's largest lake. Lago Trasimeno in Umbria is the fourth largest lake, the largest non-Alpine lake and the one with the biggest lake surface according to www.italiantourism.com, just to set the record straight in case I inadvertently gave it the claim of being Italy's largest!
We got some advice online about where a good beach might be and headed in the direction of Punta San Vigilio, just east of Garda on the Verona, the eastern side, of the lake. Part of the lake is in the Veneto and part in both Lombardia to the west and Trentinto-Alto Adige to the north. So far we have only explored the Verona side and a bit into the northern tip at Riva di Garda.
For you statistics buffs, the lake has a surface of 368sq kilometers or 145 square miles. It is 52 kilometers (32 miles) long and is only 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) at its widest point. And, the color of the water is the most beautiful shade of blue, reflecting the sky and at times seems almost turquoise, reminding us of the changing colors of the Mediterranean Sea. The cities and towns along its shores have so far been pretty places with lots of outdoors cafes and restaurants and little harbors for boats to dock. Definitely a tourists destination, there is no shortage of cute little shops selling trinkets and souvenirs and many of these towns come complete with medieval castles as we have talked about before.
This day we were determined to simply enjoy the cool waters and relax by the seashore and that is exactly what we did. At the Baia delle Sirene, a bay along the Punta San Vigilio - a little peninsula that juts into the lake - with an admission fee of 9 euros a person, you can use the deck chairs and enjoy this little piece of paradise for the day. German was definitely the language of choice in the other bathers around us but there were also some Italians thrown in for good measure and also a group of young people speaking Spanish. Even though I used what I considered to be my best Italian in ordering our sandwiches and drinks from the little snack stand, the young man responded by telling me in German what the total was - to which I replied - "scusi?" and he then answered in English! At the end, instead of Grazie, he offered a "danke" with a smile!
No matter. It was a lovely, relaxing day. The waters were refreshingly cool and calm. It was a bit hazy, giving the mountains a soft purple hue that layered back to lavender against the pale blue-white sky. From my vantage point, standing in the water, the whole world looked blue and calm. We watched boats pull into the area beyond the swimming zone, their kids - little ones with hair that glowed in the sunshine, no more than 6 or 7 years old, swim over and climb up on the platforms designated for this reason and repeatedly jump into the water, and then after a bit, swim back to the boat. Some of these were small speedboats, some larger sailboats. The entire atmosphere of the day was one of rest and relaxation and play. We watched a group of teenage boys engaged in the timeless act of throwing the teenage girls into the lake, with the latter shrieking and yelling, only to hold still long enough to be picked up and thrown in! Families with young children were all around us, including the round little boy who spent too much time curled up on the chair playing with his game-boy while his lithe little brother jumped around in the water and pestered him to join him, which he eventually did for a short bit and then it was back to the game-boy.
We had fun. We swam; we floated around; we walked around just a bit, exploring at the water's edge; we sat and read our books; I did a quick watercolor sketch; we ate lunch and had an ice cream. And, at the end of day, we held hands and together jumped off the platform and into the cool water like a couple of kids! We had fun!
Tired and a bit sunburned we headed home around 7 and promised to return or at least to come back to the lake and swim while the summer is hot and the days are long and we don't have any other reason not to!
Rosemary e Robert